foursquareWith 2.25 million users at last count, the latest craze in social networking, foursquare, has fast seen phrases like “check-in” and “mayor” become part of our everyday lexicon.  It’s no surprise, businesses are hoping to capitalize on the growth and penetrating insights of this mobile application.

AJ Bombers, a burger joint in Milwaukee, recently had five of their best sales days ever, all resulting from a single, well planned foursquare promotion; like many stories other businesses using foursquare are sharing daily.

Foursquare isn’t just a game people play on their phones and it’s not a fad. It’s a gift from the internet and a small team in NY to you.

What does your business need to know about foursquare users?

Check-ins are endorsements

Remember, we all have options: People may choose your location, choose to stay, and if you’re lucky, they choose to tell other people. With foursquare, customers are showing up at your location, and sharing with all their friends that they’re at your business, just by pushing “Check-In Here” from their cell phone. All thanks to the foursquare team for making it even easier for your visitors to find you, get tips and making it social!

With an average of 130 friends on Facebook, and 126 followers on Twitter, every check-in on foursquare by one of your customers is potentially shared with not only their friends on foursquare, but their Facebook and Twitter friends too. Consider someone who checks in more than once; a pretty obvious endorsement they enjoyed their previous visit.

Let’s quickly step through what commonly happens when someone checks in to your business on foursquare:

  1. A customer walks in, she notices’s the foursquare sticker on your window, grabs her iPhone and checks-in.
  2. Her 50 friends get an update immediately on their cell-phones where she’s at.
  3. Two friends join her, and check-in on foursquare too, and your business exposure just tripled.
  4. Her 700 Twitter followers also see she’s checked-in, some retweet with a what they love at that venue, some might save it as a “to-do” on foursquare, which will remind them next time they are in the area.
  5. Next time someone is near or at your location, the tip she left behind will prompt her friends to stop by when they are in the area.

When was the last time one of your customers called 50 of their closest friends and told them they were hanging out at your spot?

People love social proof and we are all influenced by our tribe. How does “pack mentality” affect your business on foursquare? Like will follow like. It’s your job to get as many of your target customers promoting your location on the mobile application as you possibly can. Become “The trend” in your given community and you’ll see people competing to be named “Mayor” of your location.

Before you go plastering foursquare stickers all over your walls, there’s a little more to know…

Offers, promotions and visibility

Some people just love checking in, they’ll do it without prompting and they’ll do it often, while some foursquare users just need a reminder. Offering an incentive in a popular area with a lot of foot traffic makes for some great branding. That little “Special Nearby” (a feature that notifies users when there’s a foursquare special offer in the area) is almost impossible not to press.

I’ve been living in the same area for about six months. I know very well that the Mayor of Earls Yaletown gets four Albino pints for himself and his party when he goes there. Why do I keep checking? It’s a little flashing yellow icon I simply can’t resist. Other businesses take it are creating offers themselves and adding to their foursquare venue, with out any assistance and the results have been just as great.

Some Things You Might Offer:

  • Access to secret menu items
  • Discounts during typically slow periods
  • Promotions on new products or services
  • Mayors own special place on your website, their smiling face in lights.

Use these promotions not only to boost the buzz around your business, but also to augment your business in meaningful ways. When do you need a little extra traffic? Are you looking for a packed house for a certain event? Be creative, and be aware that you aren’t just giving something away – you’re participating in one of the most affordable forms of marketing. A free beer could be worth it’s weight in gold.

We’ll discuss some additional tips and best practices in our next post.

Is your business already listed with your venue?  Do you have a special tied to your venue on foursquare?  We want to hear from you!  What have you tried that works, doesn’t work?  Are you a foursquare user who just love connecting to their favorite places? Please comment and share your story!